As a member of the Wardanaz Family, there was no way for Yi-han to learn about the rumors that surrounded them.

Their estate was bigger than most castles, and their territory spanned an area that was as vast as a regular city.
Naturally, the people that served them wouldn't carelessly say anything about the family, which resulted in him being oblivious to their reputation.
“Is there something wrong with my family?”
“No…there's nothing wrong at all.”
Nilia once again took a step back as she said this.
“I don't know what people told you, but they're all false.”
Nilia didn't lower her guard despite him saying this.
Hence, Yonaire tried to console him.
“Ridiculous rumors about nobles float around all the time.
Don't let them get to you.”
“Is that so?”
“But it's true that the rumors around the Wardanaz Family are a bit on the extreme side…”
Yi-han didn't feel comforted by her words at all.
As the two conversed, Nilia opened her mouth after organizing her thoughts.
“Right, I don't have to be afraid of the Wardanaz Family just because of the rumors.”
“What rumors?”
Nilia thought long and hard, debating whether or not she should tell the truth.
After all, they were a bit…
– The patriarch of the Wardanaz Family is actually a dragon.
Back when there was an undead infestation in the western part of the continent, he is said to have razed everything to the ground.
– The Wardanaz Family has made a pact with an ancestral spirit.
In exchange for being able to wield powerful magic, they've lost their ability to feel emotions.
– The Wardanaz Family's mages are all cold-blooded and ruthless.
An entire city was wiped out under their spells back when there was a rebel uprising.
…The list went on.
The public image of the Wardanaz Family was much worse than what Yi-han had imagined.
The empire's citizens viewed them as “monsters that would lie in wait most of the times, only to emerge during critical moments and sweep away all resistance”.
“If an important event happens within the empire, isn't it natural for the big guns to appear?”
That's why I'm telling you that you don't have to pay much attention to the rumors.”
Yi-han still felt wronged despite Yonaire's attempt to cheer him up.
'I guess the rumor about them not having any emotions is false,' Nilia thought as she watched this unfold.
“Something's wrong.
Look over here.”
Nilia pointed at the ground as she said so.
There was grass covering the hill that they were on, so it was barely discernible, but she had noticed a certain trace using her instinct as a dark elf and her experience as a member of the .

“See this over here? This means something big passed through earlier.”
“But isn't the trace too shallow for that?”
“It took care not to leave any trace behind.
Must be a clever one.
It's skilled at controlling its strength and concealing its path.
It probably made a slight mistake while trying to reach for the berries over there, which is why this trace formed.”
Yonaire wasn't too interested in listening to this conversation.
Since her field of interest was alchemy, she didn't feel the need to learn about a hunter's tracking skills.
As such, she poked around to see if she could find the herb nearby.
Nilia noticed her behavior and felt slightly irritated.
Things used to be much easier back when she was still a part of the .
Everyone in the group was a hunter or a ranger, and the people in her village all had at least one such person in their family, which made it easy for her to converse with the others.
– I had a close shave today.
I really wanted to catch the beast because it had beautiful fur.
– Hahaha! Classic.
Back when I was young…
They could talk for hours on end just at the mention of prey they saw during their hunt.
On the other hand, things were completely different at the academy.
– This is something that happened while I was living in the mountains…
– Mountains?
– Yeah, I used to hunt there…
– Hunt? Why would you do that?
– Well, I was part of this group…
– Can't you just buy meat from a butcher?
– …You m*therf*cker, come meet me outside!
– Hyiii!
…Nilia, who had experienced this sort of conversation several times by now, couldn't help but be irked by Yonaire's lack of interest, but she decided to keep it to herself.
'Calm down.
Not everyone here's a hunter, so I must try to adapt to this.'
“Truly fascinating.
Anything else you can tell from the clues that it left behind?”
However, Yi-han's response came as a surprise to her.
He was listening to what she was saying with a serious look of interest.
This caught her off-guard.
“D-did you just say it's fascinating?”
“Yeah? Something wrong with that?”
Nothing's wrong, but this isn't supposed to be fascinating, and you know, what's wrong is that nothing is wrong and…”
In a panic, she started spewing nonsense, which in turn confused Yi-han.

'Is she drunk or something?'
Nilia also noticed that she wasn't making any sense and hurriedly got hold of herself.
“Anyway! Since we've found a trace left behind by something big, we should be careful.
See how that blade of grass has been cut? It means we're dealing with a beast with sharp claws.”
“I see.”
Yi-han was a curious person by nature, and his curiosity extended beyond magic to subjects such as hunting as well.
If that wasn't the case, he wouldn't have gone to graduate school in his previous life no matter how many tricks his professors pulled.
“Do you know what we're facing?”
“Unfortunately, there aren't enough clues,” Nilia said with crossed arms.
Experienced hunters would know what they're facing based solely on footprints that have been left behind, or so people would think.
In reality, that was only possible for hunters that stayed in a particular region for a long time and knew the animals that lived there well.
She, on the other hand, didn't know what kind of creatures roamed the mountains of the academy, so there was no way for her to tell.
“Apparently, all kinds of weird monsters appear near the academy.”
“Oh, someone told me that as well,” Yonaire affirmed while nodding her head.
Einroguard was located where mana was abundant, which made it easier for monsters to appear.
Not to mention…
“Monsters created through experiments are also said to roam the nearby areas.
Slimes with special mutations are also said to appear from time to time after absorbing potions and medicines that have been thrown out.”
Yi-han found this absolutely inconceivable.
'Do the mages here not learn about lab safety?'
He was of the belief that everything from potions to creatures made through magic should be kept under close scrutiny.
To think they'd toss them out like garbage.
It was no wonder problems occurred.
“We should be more careful.”
“Precisely! We'll keep moving with this trace in mind.
It'll decrease the chance of us getting ambushed.”
“Can you teach me how to track animals as well?”
Nilia blinked when she heard his request.
Thinking he may have breached manners, Yi-han rephrased what he just said.
“If it's not something you can teach outsiders, just ignore what I said…”
“…It won't be easy.
You'll probably give up midway.
Are you aware of how difficult it is to master this skill?”
“If you're willing to teach me, I'll try my best not to give up.”
Let's see about that!”
Yonaire whispered to Yi-han so that Nilia wouldn't be able to hear what she said.
“Why are you trying to learn this?”
“Well, it sounds interesting.”

“Found it.
Grass of Cleansing.”
With Nilia and Yi-han on the lookout, Yonaire was able to safely find the herbs which were hidden behind thick, dense bushes.
'We've somehow managed to find them,' Yi-han thought.
“But there's only two of them.”
“Just have to find one more…Why are you guys so quiet?” Yonaire asked as she turned her head.
It only took her a split second to realize what was going on.
– …
A massive boar was staring intensely in their direction.
“I can sense mana flowing out of it.
It must have consumed something,” Yi-han analyzed level-headedly.
It probably consumed some sort of reagent or portion.
It was either that, or the boar used to be a test subject…
“That's not what's important right now.
We must stay alert!” Nilia whispered to them in a hurry.
Boars were not weak.
They had strong bodies and moved surprisingly well.
Those with tusks were especially dangerous, and the one they were dealing with wasn't some livestock that escaped from a pen.
It was a beast, and since it absorbed mana through unknown means, it was infinitely close to being a monster.
“It's a wild boar! Don't agitate it! Slowly take a step back,” Nilia ordered.
Yonaire tried her best to put strength into her shivering legs, and Yi-han supported her as they retreated.
– !!!
However, the boar grunted and slowly approached them.
There was steam coming out of its mouth, and it seemed to be fuming with rage.
“Retreating any further might be dangerous.”
Yi-han pulled out his staff as he said so and wielded it like a spear, which made him look quite the part.
'Right! He's a Wardanaz!'
Nilia finally recalled that Yi-han was a member of the Wardanaz Family, a family renowned for producing powerful mages.
He might have learned a spell or two before being admitted to the academy.
'He did say that he's in charge of chasing away animals and monsters, didn't he?'
Nilia asked Yi-han in a small voice.
“How confident are you?”
“Not that confident, but I should be able to deal with it.”

“If your plan fails, grab the redhead and bolt.
I'll act as a decoy.”
She was the only one in their group who could weave through mountains effortlessly.
It wasn't that she didn't trust Yi-han's magic, but as a hunter, she was one to always think of a backup plan.
If things went awry, she was prepared to distract the boar.
Yi-han was touched when he heard this, and so was Yonaire.
“So you've grown attached to us…”
“That's not the case here.
It's because I'm the only one that's up for the task.”
Thanks anyway.
We'll have to rely on you if worse comes to worst.”
Yi-han stopped talking and focused as the boar gradually closed in on them.
Yi-han counted down as he calmly measured the distance between them.
Nilia, who was watching behind him, nervously gulped down.
'What kind of spell would he throw at the boar?'
A loud, clear sound came from the boar's head.
Yi-han's decision had been to whack it with his staff.
– Swords are the kings of all weapons, but simply learning swordsmanship isn't enough.
One must prepare themselves for when one doesn't have a sword.
They must be able to fight with spears, clubs, knives, and even their bare hands.
– I see.
– …I know I was the one that said it, but is the Young Master alright with this?
– Why, is something wrong?
– N-no, nothing.
Arlong wasn't the type to go easy on someone just because he was teaching the young master.
Instead, he was determined to be harsh on Yi-han, just as his master had been to him.
…And Yi-han absorbed his teachings well.
Other nobles would've complained and screamed, “Why must I do something so tiring” but Yi-han was the opposite.
'People usually have to pay for this.
This is nothing!'
Back when he was a graduate student, he didn't have the time or money to exercise.
Now that he had a personal trainer known as Arlong, he wasn't about to complain.
Also, whenever he got tired, servants would run over with refreshments and potions…
– Young Master, I'm sure you're curious by now as to why I'm not teaching you how to use aura like the other knights.
– But I'm not? Can a beginner like me really learn such an incredible skill?
– …If the aim isn't to learn how to manipulate aura, why is the Young Master trying to learn swordsmanship??
Arlong asked as he stared at Yi-han incredulously.

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